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Mask-Wearing

On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided further guidance for fully vaccinated people with respect to masking and physical distancing. Executive Order 13991 requires agencies to adhere to current public health measures as provided in CDC guidance, including with respect to mask wearing, physical distancing, and other safety measures. These frequently asked questions address how this CDC guidance applies to Federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors to Federal buildings and Federal lands at this time.

Q: How should agencies address significant operational challenges in implementing new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals?

A: Agencies should seek to implement new masking and physical distancing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals as soon as possible, consistent with any applicable collective bargaining obligations. In certain circumstances, agencies may have workplaces where implementation of the new requirements raises significant operational challenges because of the nature of the worksite or the work performed there. In such cases, agencies may take additional time as needed to resolve any operational concerns prior to implementing the guidance.

Q: Who is considered fully vaccinated?

A: People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen). There is currently no post-vaccination time limit on fully vaccinated status.

This guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. This guidance also applies to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford).

Q: Do fully vaccinated Federal employees, onsite contractors, or visitors need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands?

A: No, in most settings fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands, except where called for by Federal, State, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. Nothing in CDC guidance precludes an employee from wearing a mask if they so choose. CDC’s guidance for mask-wearing and physical distancing in specific settings, including healthcare, transportation, correctional and detention facilities, and schools, should be followed as applicable. Agencies should communicate with employee representatives and satisfy any applicable collective bargaining obligations prior to implementing changes to policies regarding mask wearing and physical distancing.

Q: Do Federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors who are not fully vaccinated need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands?

A: Yes, people who are not fully vaccinated need to continue to wear a mask and physically distance consistent with CDC guidance and the requirements set forth in Executive Order 13991 and OMB Memorandum M-21-15.

Q: Should agencies update signs to reflect the latest CDC masking and physical distancing guidance?

A: Yes, agencies should post signs making clear that the masking and physical distancing requirements continue to apply to individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

Q: Do agencies or the building’s Facility Security Committee (FSC) need to issue orders making the wearing of masks consistent with CDC guidance a condition of entry for those persons wishing to access the facility?

A: EO 13991 requires agencies to take steps to implement the policy established by the EO, and these steps include orders by the occupant agency or the relevant Facility Security Committee (FSC), or, for GSA-controlled facilities, GSA imposing requirements consistent with the EO. If the agency with jurisdiction, custody, or control over a facility has not already issued a policy making the wearing of masks consistent with CDC guidance a condition of entry to the facility and throughout common areas and shared workspaces, the occupant agency must implement the requirements of EO 13991 and distribute notice of the face covering requirement through written signage posted conspicuously at each public entrance on the property, and through other communications of internal policies and guidance directed to its employees and contractors. The FSC should meet to discuss operational considerations (including conspicuous posting of notices at entrances to facilities), enforcement protocols, and any other issues associated with implementation of the EO requirements that require cross-agency collaboration at the local level.

Q: Will GSA require its onsite service contractors who are not fully vaccinated (including custodial, operation and maintenance contractors) to wear face coverings throughout building common areas and agency-occupied space? Should agencies that hire onsite service contractors in other, non-GSA controlled facilities require these contractors to wear face coverings throughout building common areas and agency-occupied space?

A: Yes, GSA will require its service contractors in GSA-controlled facilities who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks throughout common areas and agency-occupied space. For agencies in non-GSA-controlled facilities, policies and procedures should be put in place by the agency to require onsite service contractors who are not fully vaccinated (including custodial contractors) to wear masks throughout common areas and agency-occupied space.